Problems arise for some over plasma donations to fight COVID-19

Plasma donations have become a popualr way to fight against the coronavirus. But it turns out not everyone is able to help out.

In order to donate plasma to COVID-19 patients, donors cannot have a specific antibody. It's an FDA requirement that one woman who was about to dnoate didn't know about. Petra Kloss said she did not know she had the antibody.

"Just a really bad headache, being very exhausted and feeling not right. Something was off I could tell," she said.

Last month, Kloss was diagnosed with COVID-19. With a mild case, she recovered well after quarantining, but she wanted something more. So she posted on the Survivor Corps Facebook page, offering to donate plasma to whomever needed it.

"I felt like, since I was one of the fortunate ones who really got away with a minor version of it, this is the least I can do," said Kloss. 

She met the eligibility requirements, but after a pre-test Petra Kloss learned she couldn't donate plasma after all. The doctors told her she had the HLA antibody. Donating plasma with that antibody can have severe consequences for the recipient.

"That can cause cross reactivity and that can cause a severe type of lung injury that we have an acronym called TRALY (Transfusion Related Acute Lung Injury)," said Dr. Jason Littleton, of Littleton Concierge Medicine. 

Doctors say Kloss likely developed the antibody when she was pregnant years ago. Thsoe who have received organ donations can also develop the antibody.

"It’s actually not too common. It's actually rare. But it’s something we need to know the person’s history," said Dr. Littleton.

Kloss had already been talking to several potential recipients of her plasma, but she has since had to back out.

"I’m kind of sad about it and disappointed. I was really excited and I said, 'Oh my gosh, this is really the best thing which can come out of it,'" Kloss explained.

There are no adverse effects if you have the antibody, only if you donate or transfuse it. A simple blood test can tell you whether you have it.